• Id_057

    Pablo PIcasso: Nude Woman in a Red Armchair 1932

  • Id_069

    Pablo Picasso: A Child with a Dove 1901

  • Id_067

    Pablo Picasso: Nude on the Beach 1932

  • Id_058

    Pablo Picasso: Guitar, Gas Jet and Bottle 1913

  • Id_066

    Pablo Picasso: Man with a Clarinet 1911-12

  • Id_053

    Pablo Picasso: Still Life (Nature morte) 1914

  • Francis1

    Francis Bacon: Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion c. 1944

  • Francis2

    Francis Bacon: Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion c. 1944

  • Id_101resized

    Francis Bacon: Crucifixion 1933

  • Id_139

    David Hockney: The Student: Homage to Picasso 1973

  • Id_140

    David Hockney: Artist and Model 1973-74

  • Id_142

    David Hockney: Christopher without his glasses on 1984

  • Id_148

    David Hockney: PAINT TROLLEY, L.A. 1985

Art

What's On: Picasso & Modern British Art

Posted by Charlotte Simmonds,

Picasso, the quintessential maverick, is an artist revered by many, and this latest Tate Britain effort will only further cement his reputation. But this show isn’t mere hero-worship, the emphasis here is on interpretation and an active, rather than passive appreciation. It’s the first of its kind – an exploration of the effect the Spanish master’s work has had on seven British artists, as well as a survey of his varying reception with British collectors, curators, and the public. It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s got lots of work and lots of wall text. But most importantly it offers elegant insight into the power of one man’s continually evolving legacy.

Curator Chris Stephens assigned himself a mighty task when he decided to bring together Picasso’s various movements alongside career highlights from British artists Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland and David Hockney.

His chronological approach remains pleasantly un-stiff, with each room boasting its own mythology, rich with anecdotes that carry the show at an entertaining pace. Room One, for instance, tells the tale of a young Duncan Grant who traveled to Paris, met Gertrude Stein and ended up having his mind blown cubist-style by Picasso et. al, before incorporating the artist’s African-style figures and decorative prints into his own work.
 
Continuing from here is another lesser known Picasso exploit – the summer of 1919 he spent in style at the Savoy Hotel during his first trip to London, where he arrived on commission to design costumes and sets for the Russian Ballet’s Three Cornered Hat.

His joyful collection is presented here along with sketches of friends made while fraternising with the best of the British avant-guarde (evenings with Aldous Huxley, Lydia Lopokova, John Maynard Keynes and the critic Clive Bell will live on in dinner-party infamy).

But it wasn’t always high-times for Picasso. Periods of criticism and poorly-received exhibitions plagued the artist throughout much of his early career, and for decades his British collectors numbered very few. Picasso built strong ties with his best British buyers, and the acquisitions of Douglas Cooper and Roland Penrose on show here are of staggering quality – a wonderful mix of well known and never-before-seen gems like a little 3-D collage that recreates Picasso’s Parisian cafe lunch, complete with knife, fork, and plate of saucisson.

The Guardian’s Richard Shone wrote this weekend that in attempting to capture Picasso’s uniquely British legacy, such a show could perhaps instead serve “to denigrate most of Picasso’s British contemporaries, when seen alongside his towering achievements.” It’s a fair point, but fortunately it’s a concern the show manages to sidestep. These seven Brits come across not as slavish followers but rather a group who communally aknolwedge Picasso’s work as a turning point in their own careers.

Henry Moore’s voluptuous wood sculptures are glorious extensions of Picasso’s abstracted female forms, while Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (he abandoned an interior design career upon seeing the Dinard paintings) sits proudly on the wall, a triumph in its own alarming right.

David Hockney famously claims to have seen Picasso’s 1960 Tate blockbuster eight times and, when given the chance in 1980 to create the costumes for the ballet Parade, chose instead to revive Picasso’s own 1919 designs. And in honour of what he considered PIcasso’s most admirable quality, Hockney titled his seminal RCA Young Contemporaries exhibition “Demonstrations of Versatility.”

And it’s this sentiment which perhaps sums up the show’s ethos most succinctley. This is a celebration of Picasso’s variations, his diversity as a master of many media and the broad scope of his influence. He’s the star of the show, the vanguard of seven mignons, and it’s easy to see why we would struggle to find anyone to esteem more enthusiastically.

Through Picasso, generations of painters have learned the expressive power of distortion and the joys of colour. To see his work hung low on the gallery wall is to marvel at it all, from the smallest sketch to the largest canvas still thick with unspread paint.

Picasso & Modern British Art runs from 15 February to 15 July 2012 at Tate Britain.
Portrait11

Posted by Charlotte Simmonds

Californian Charlotte joined us as an editorial intern after studying at New York university and London Metropolitan University. She wrote for the site between January and March 2012.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

  1. List

    The bright, woozy haze of Wojciech Fangor’s psychedelic paintings is mesmerising. It’s even more so having learnt that the Polish artist, who worked during the 1960s, created these Op art masterpieces entirely in isolation, working in Eastern Europe having not seen the similar works being created in America and Europe by the likes of Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely. As such, while the images feel familiar; there’s also something exotic about them, pulsing with light created using intensely coloured oil paint applied in thin layers. A new show named Colour-Light-Space opens next month at London’s 3 Grafton Street gallery, and will display a number of works by Wojciech from the 1960s and 1970s that demonstrate his mastery of all three words in the title. It’s fascinating to think of the artist working on these beautiful optical illusions and explorations of the power of painting well before similar works were created elsewhere in the world, and it’s great to have his work celebrated in the way it deserves.

  2. List

    Mark Lazenby is the go-to guy for collage that just works. We last featured the artist two years ago and since then his portfolio of pieced together artworks has exploded with even more impressive works and a real exploration of materials and collage techniques.

  3. List

    There’s not a pie in the cultural world that James Franco isn’t ready and willing to stick a finger into, and to prove it the actor, director, poet and musician has just announced a new exhibition of his artworks, entitled Fat Squirrel, which is to be held at London’s Siegfried Contemporary gallery. The show is an undeniably eclectic collection, including a number of self portraits of the artist in the guise of various famous historical figures, a deer orgy entitled Triple Team, and some bright painterly collages, not to mention the eponymous overweight rodents which are undoubtedly our favourites.

  4. List

    I’m known for my sweet tooth and ability to consume an obscene amount of cakes, sweets and biscuits in one sitting, so it’ll come as no surprise that I was instantly drawn to Will Cotton’s sugary scenes of candy-laced lands.

  5. List

    Time and again Amy Woodside gets in touch to let us know about new projects she’s cooked up and time and again we’re powerless to resist them. The New York-based artist is focussed to a fault on her fine art practice where iconic letterforms emerge from meticulously registered screen printing and frantic flourishes of spray paint. Where first she caught our eye with multicoloured wordplay, the constant reduction and refinement of her process has resulted in a new series’ of totemic words like ‘Hero’, ‘Cash’, ‘Hoax’ and ‘Like’, pre-loaded with cultural context and double meaning, writ large on the canvas. What’s the meaning behind them? The interpretation is up to you, but Amy always seems to be critiquing pop culture with its own visual vernacular and playing fast and loose with our ambiguous use of language.

  6. List

    The Dutch/Brazilian artist Rafaël Rozendaal is best known for his digital artworks that often take the form of webpages but as he told us at our 2013 creative symposium Here he is increasingly interested in exploring his fascination with light and colour in real-world scenarios. Most recently this has taken the form of his hyper-colourful abstract lenticular paintings, which are made up of layers of different frames and so appear to move when viewed from different angles.

  7. List

    There’s a wonderful, undulating beauty to Alain Delorme’s series that initially tricks the viewer into thinking they’re seeing flocks of starlings choreographing themselves against iridescent skies. On closer inspection though, rather than capturing mass avian movements the Parisian photographer has replaced them with a myriad of plastic bags.

  8. List

    Way back in 2011 when we first posted the work of Frank Magnotta It’s Nice That was a very different beast – we’d only give you one image to check out and the rest was up to you. So when I stumbled across Frank’s work again this week it seemed essential that we show you a whole lot more. To be honest there have been few updates to his site in the past three years but the work is breathtaking, pulling together pop culture references, architectural precision and some serious Americana and combining it into stark surrealist landscapes. At times grotesque but always engaging, Frank’s graphite artworks are still some of the finest around.

  9. List

    Jean Jullien is many things. Artist. Illustrator. French. Recent emigre to New York. It’s Nice That favourite. So hot right now. He’s also the final artist to have a show at Kemistry Gallery’s current east London home before it closes its doors early next year (although as has been reported it has some excitingly ambitious plans).

  10. List

    American artist James Rieck paints models, but not in the way you might expect. In his huge colourful canvases he takes figures from adverts and recreates them four or five feet wide, capturing their clothes, their postures but not their faces.

  11. List

    These painted scenes from Paige Jiyoung Moon are so wonderfully intricate, a new detail pops out each time you see them. Capturing domestic scenes like people drinking coffee, friends watching a film or a family eating lunch together, it’s the mundanity of what Paige paints that makes her miniature worlds so inviting as the viewer tries to pick out some sort of irregularity.

  12. List

    It’s been a whole two years since we last posted about the marvellous work of Lynnie Zulu and we’re happy to have the illustrator’s vibrant world colouring our dull Monday once again. Her latest body of work is on show now at No Walls Gallery in Brighton and is a fantastically lively exploration of the female in all her glorious forms.

  13. List-tatiana-bruni_-the-drunkard_-costume-design-for-%e2%80%98the-bolt%e2%80%99_-1931_-courtesy-grad-and-st-petersburg-museum-of-theatre-and-music

    We’re no ballet aficionados, but we wouldn’t usually associate drunkards, typists and factory workers with the grace and poise of the discipline. However, as these beautiful gouache painting by Tatiana Bruni show, there’s much more to ballet than tutus and swan lake, with her angular figures, bold colours and sometimes grotesquely postured characters. The paintings show costume designs for Dmitri Shostakovich’s 1931 ballet The Bolt, and are going on show at London’s Gallery for Russian Arts and Design alongside a series of period photographs. The ballet itself was bold and striking in its use of real hammers, machine-inspired choreography, aerobics and acrobatics, and the costume images are equally as dynamic, inspired by “the aesthetics of agit-theatre and artist-designed propaganda posters”, according to the gallery. The sense of movement is palpable, whether in the graceful billowing dresses or the staggering legs of our brightly-coloured drunkard, working against the geometric rigidity of the style to beautiful effect.